14 March 2006

Oh, the irony

The proposition that the religious right enjoy an evolutionary advantage over the secular progressive factions because the former have more children is not particularly new. But this essay in Foreign Policy is a good introduction to the argument for those who haven't thought about it before.

Towards the end comes this nightmare scenario:
Tomorrow’s children, therefore, unlike members of the postwar baby boom generation, will be for the most part descendants of a comparatively narrow and culturally conservative segment of society. To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents’ values, as always happens. But when they look around for fellow secularists and counterculturalists with whom to make common cause, they will find that most of their would-be fellow travelers were quite literally never born.
There are some problems when it comes to applying the theory to reality. For one thing, the authors claim that "Among states that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Sen. John Kerry." This may be true, but it ignores the fact the most states in 2004 only tilted one way or the other by the smallest of margins. In many cases, Arkansas and Alabama among them, the difference was less than one percentage point.

But overall, I find it hard to find fault with the thesis. The result will be rather ironic, considering the positive correlation between belief in creationism and family size. In other words, the less likely one is to believe in evolution, the more likely it is that evolutionary processes will ensure one's culture comes out on top.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dale said...

Hmm. Creationism was the only game in town until quite recently. So where did all the "secularists and counterculturalists" who now exist come from? Following this thesis, we'd never have any new belief systems coming to dominate, would we? Without having read the article, I'd say that they've overplayed the heritability of religious dogma; and heritability is critical to evolution by natural selection.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And so the pendulum swings back again.
Evolution does have self correcting features buikt in. Once the creationists take over and throw scientific knowledge onto the trash heap, we can expect an increase in their death rates (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses and their refusal to save their children who could benefit from blood transfusions). Presumabley, they will die back and then permit secularists to prosper until the maddness starts again. And so on, and so on, and so on...

...John

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